MORE THAN A PIPELINE: IT’S A TOXIC INDUSTRIAL INFRASTRUCTURE
By Mina Hamilton
A little known aspect of gas pipelines is that they require large compressor stations to help concentrate and move the pressurized gas along.As compressor stations release large amounts of methane, plus other toxins, they contribute significantly to global warming. They are noisy, humming 24/7, and are subject to dangerous explosions and fires. At public meetings and during the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission application process, gas pipeline companies have not revealed the number, location and size of planned compressor stations.
The large compressor stations, part of every gas pipeline project, can include acres of industrial plant, plus buffer zones.1 At these stations gas is pressurized to move it along high-speed gas pipelines more efficiently. The stations are spaced every 30 to 70 miles, though sometimes they are much closer.
Compressor stations are significant contributors to global warming. During ventings known as “blow-downs” large quantities of methane are released to the atmosphere. In the first two decades after methane is released it is 79 to 105 times more powerful than CO2 at destabilizing the climate. (Source)
Compressor stations also leak methane via valves and gaskets that weaken and leak from corrosion and thermal stress. A recent study by Cornell University scientists Bob Howard and Anthony Ingraffea estimates leaks. They found that anywhere from 3.6% to 7.9% of unburned methane leaks out at gas wellheads and along pipeline infrastructure before reaching end users. (Source)
Compressor stations release huge amounts of toxins. These toxins include benzene, toluene, sulfuric oxide, and formaldehyde. Citizens within 1500 feet of compressor stations in PA, TX, LA and other states have suffered from nose bleeds, rashes, headaches, sore throats, dizziness and nausea.
A typical compressor(from FERC application for the Compressor Station in Reed, PA.) also emits 46.2 tons of nitrous oxide per year. An anesthetic for dental surgeries, nitrous oxide can cause numbness and mental impairment. It has a sickly sweet smell. Nitrous oxide and volatile organic compounds interact to produce ground level ozone. Ozone inhibits crop growth by up to 30%.
Compressor stations emit radon-222. This radioactive gas precipitates out as radioactive polonium and lead. During blow-downs these toxins deposit in surrounding areas. Rowan, E.L. and Kraemer, T.F.,2012, Radon-222Content of natural gas samples from Upper and Middle Devonian sandstone and shale reservoirs in Pennsylvania: Preliminary data: US Geological Survey Open File Report 2012-1159. (Source)
Compressor stations are noisy. “Blow-downs” can last for two hours. The noise is comparable to a commercial jet taking off. Blow-downs are needed if a gas pipeline is taken off-line for maintenance, in the event of emergencies, or to accommodate fluctuating demand. They often occur in the middle of the night.(Source)
The sound of regular compressor station operation has been compared to four diesel locomotive engines running 24/7. Residents as far as a mile away can hear the racket. This humming can cause hearing impairment, learning disabilities and cardiovascular problems.
Compressor stations are dangerous. Since 2011, there have been explosions and fires at compressor stations in Lathrop, Pa, Brooklyn Township, PA, Montrose, PA, Branchville, NJ, Windsor, NY, Pinedale, WY, Marengo County, AL, Oaktown, IN, Langton, OK, Nine Mile Canyon in UT – among others. Explosions have required midnight evacuations of nearby residents, with people evacuated out to a one-mile radius.
Compressor stations are fully automated, without staff present. In emergencies local fire departments (often volunteer) must wait for gas pipeline crews to arrive from distant depots hours away.
Pipeline companies are not transparent regarding the location of planned compressor stations. For years it has been standard gas pipeline company policy not to reveal the location or specifications regarding planned compressor stations – until the last minute.
To mask the full environmental impact of a proposed line, gas pipeline companies sometimes do not include all planned compressors stations in initial Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) applications.
An example of this tactic is the case of the Millennium Pipeline and Compressor Station in Minisink, NY: Millennium put in its FERC application for the pipeline in 2006 and the compressor station application in 2011, five years later (Personal communication Pramilla Malick of Stop the Minisink Compressor Station). This type of segmentation is illegal, but remains an industry-wide practice (US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled on June 6, 2014 that segmentation is illegal and that FERC should not permit segmented applications. Whether Kinder Morgan or FERC will abide by this ruling is unclear. An application for non-contiguous sections of the Northeast Pipeline has been submitted to FERC by Kinder Morgan in the summer of 2014 – after said District Court ruling.).
1Mina Hamilton writes on environmental issues. Her articles have been published in Mother Jones, the Progressive, the Nation, and In These Times. She has been a Research Associate at Radioactive Waste Management Associates, was Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Sierra Club Radioactive Waste Campaign, and served on Greenpeace USA’s Board of Directors. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3/5 DeRuyter NY 8-12-14 — Dr. Larysa Dyrszka — Health Impacts of Compressor Stations
PENNSYLVANIA – Observation of the Button Road Compressor station, with FLIR camera
PENNSYLVANIA – Living with a compressor station, 2012
WYOMING – Compressor station fire and explosion, 2011
PENNSYLVANIA – Video presentation on hazards of compressor stations
Some examples of actual pigging operations
Articles on Compressor Stations and Their Hazards
New disturbing video from Minisink, NY
The people of Minisink, NY are about 2 months “ahead” of us, they have submitted the brief for the FERC appeal in court. Unfortunately for them, they were not as “lucky” as we are, and the gas company there has already gotten all the required permits, including the air quality permit. The company already has built the station within a few weeks, and is already starting to operate despite the ongoing court case! They have published a new video showing the emissions, which are actually invisible and can only be seen with special equipment.
Spectra Energy Steckman Ridge Natural Gas Compressor Station Gas and Oil Mist Release
This letter report summarizes the air dispersion and deposition modeling analysis conducted by Trinity Consultants (Trinity) in response to an emergency shutdown (ESD) in the compressor building at the Steckman Ridge, LP facility located at 1809 Rock Hill Church Road just east of Clearville, Pennsylvania. This ESD resulted in the contemporaneous depressurization of the whole system over about a 90 second period of time and the release of methane and lubricating oil in the form of oil mist particles from one or more ESD discharge points at the facility. Trinity was retained by Steckman Ridge, LP to perform a modeling analysis for the ESD for the purposes of discerning the likely path of the released oil mist, and determining the potential direction and distance to which oil mist may have propagated.
Read the full report article here
Brookfield homeowner fears sound waves may harm natural gas pipelines
BROOKFIELD — Step into Steve Kohlhase’s back yard on Dairy Farm Drive in Brookfield and the first thing you will notice is buzzing or humming sound that fills the air.
At first, a visitor might mistake the sound for an airplane flying overhead. But the sound remains constant, day and night, Kohlhase said. “I used to have trouble sleeping from it, until I figured a way to mask the sound,” he said.
When he bought the house in 1994, Kohlhase didn’t hear the noise. It wasn’t until 2008 that the noise first surfaced, he said.
That’s when the Shelton-based Iroquois Gas Transmission System built a compressor station on a sprawling, 80-acre site off High Meadow Road. The station, which houses two units that regulate the pressure of the natural gas flowing through the pipeline, is located less than a mile from Kohlhase’s house across wooded wetland.
Evacuation near compressor station
Safety concerns, air contamination, noise, and impact on property values were among the objections sited by area residents who spoke out against the project before it was granted a license by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). At an August 2, 2012 hearing, residents pointed out that the compressor station is being built on a narrow, winding road that has only one means of egress in the winter. In emergencies, residents said, Millennium would be forced to rely on the Long Eddy Volunteer Fire Department in Sullivan County, which has only seven active members and lacks a foam truck like the one that had been used to put out a compressor station fire in the Broome County Town of Windsor earlier that summer. Another resident pointed out that the compressor station would release huge volumes of contaminants into the atmosphere, including formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and cancer-causing volatile organic compounds. The methane released into the atmosphere by Millennium on Thursday night is a powerful greenhouse gas.
Low Frequency Noise and the Hazards of Living Near a Compressor Station!
I am more concerned about the LFN effect on humans. Especially when my grand children come to stay with us. I have suffered brain damage, heart damage, ruptured ear drum twice and now have a permanent hole in my ear drum and suffer from restless leg syndrome. I have lived in my home 21 years in near perfiect health before the compressor station came. It is 0.9 miles from our home. Our neighbors are suffering also including ruptured ear drums, vertigo, restless leg syndrome, incontinence in younger women. Men can become sterile also and suffer sexual dysfunction. All of these are symptoms of Vibro-Acoustic Disease (VAD) caused by LFN from compressor stations.
Dangers of Oil Mist in Gas Compressor Stations
It is not uncommon that gas transportation companies can report dozens of oil leaks per year in a single gas compression station facility and some of those leaks break into fire causing significant damage and production loss. Numerous industry studies have verified that both smoke and oil mist often precede flame and either may obscure or blind some optical flame detectors preventing fire warning and potentially leading to disaster.
LATEST COMPRESSOR STATIONS NEWS ARTICLES
Three 9th District Court of Appeals judges are scheduled at noon to hear oral arguments from local landowners and NEXUS Gas Transmission LLC, a unit of Spectra Energy Corp. — a company that wants to survey the land of residents who have not granted permission to enter their property.Click here for the full post
A homeowner in Yorktown got this notice that Spectra will be venting the gas from various valves along the pipeline" starting TOMORROW and lasting until next week.Click here for the full post
It’s the night opponents of the compressor station in Waterville have been looking forward to for a long time. They finally laid out their case about how this proposed station would impact the health of the community.Click here for the full post
Many northwest Ohioans are concerned about a pipeline that could run through their backyards. Some supporters want to alleviate the demand for natural gas and create thousands of jobs while opponents have health concerns.Click here for the full post
https://youtu.be/lS3yGRaiHvwClick here for the full post
DANGER! Los Angeles Gas Well Leak "OUT OF CONTROL" - Entirely lost control of entire gas field, leaks everywhere!"
A catastrophic disaster is now taking place outside of Los Angeles endangering hundreds of thousands of people. officials say they have "entirely lost control of the entire (gas) field" meaning explosive methane gas is now leaking from "many places." Workers at the scene of the Porter Ranch gas field in the Aliso Canyon say some of the leaks are so loud, the hissing sound can be heard 1/2 mile away.Click here for the full post
Byproduct of Uranium — Expert: “A lot” has been detected in area… Very dangerous… May be coming up from ground into people’s homesClick here for the full post
An explosion at an Oasis Midstream Services, LLC compressor station located north of Watford City on Highway 1806 on Wednesday, Dec. 23, not only set off an automatic 911 call, but is raising concerns from McKenzie County officials as to the proximity that many oilfield structures are being built in regards to residential homes.Click here for the full post
Think gas pipeline failures are a rare occurrence? Think again. Here is a list of gas pipeline failures resulting in injuries/evacuations since 2000. 35 reported in 2015 aloneClick here for the full post
Physicians Speak Out on the Health Effects of Fracked Gas Compressor StationsClick here for the full post
Two stark numbers illustrate the challenge the administration faces in ensuring pipeline safety while pressing ahead with new pipeline projects: 135 federal inspectors oversee 2.6 million miles of pipeline, which means each inspector is responsible for almost enough pipe to circle the Earth.Click here for the full post